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USA TODAY Sports breaks down Monday night's NCAA championship game.

BRACKET HUB: Final Four central

1. Connecticut's harassing backcourt. It was one of the biggest questions heading into the national championship game: Could Kentucky's young guard pairing – the brothers Aaron and Andrew Harrison – handle the Huskies' Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright? Through the game's first seven minutes, the Huskies had their way from end to end, stifling the Wildcats' offensive rhythm at the source and dictating a quick-tempo flow from defense to offense. Napier forced Aaron Harrison into a pair of turnovers in the first five minutes, in fact, giving the game's opening stages a decidedly UConn feel. The best moment came via Boatright, who dipped and curved his way past Kentucky guard Dominique Hawkins for a layup at the 13:08 mark, giving the Huskies a 17-8 lead and forcing a timeout.

GAMER: UConn wins fourth national title

2. Julius Randle's quiet start – and strong finish. The Wildcats' biggest weapon – a mauler and a bruiser, an All-American – was missing in action. Blame cramps: Randle shuffled in and out of the lineup during the game's first 30 minutes, playing and sitting in two-minute increments, negating his typically plus-size impact. What is Kentucky without Randle? Think about it: With Randle quiet, the Wildcats needed to run the offense primarily through the backcourt – which had to deal with Napier and Boatright. But he came alive late, scoring four points in the half's final minute and bringing the Wildcats to within four at the break: UConn 35, Kentucky 31.

PHOTOS: BEST OF THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

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3. Offenses lose steam. One half was not like the other. If the first half was smooth – with one team making a run, then the other – the second half was anything but, with both teams struggling to convert amid missed shots, botched passes and wasted possessions. But after the Wildcats drew within a field goal, UConn's defense again carried its up-and-down offensive attack. A Niels Giffey three made it 44-39; Ryan Boatright then picked Aaron Harrison's pocket on the next possession and was fouled on a layup, nailing both attempts to make 46-39. Kentucky's next trip down the court ended with Randle throwing a pass into the first row. Napier then made a fallback jumper from the left side to make it 48-39 with 11 minutes left. In a half where points were at a premium, this run stood out.

RYAN BOATRIGHT: Steps out of Shabazz Napier's shadow

4. James Young's dunk. Kentucky's ability to weather any storm, seen clearly during this run through the tournament, belies the five-freshman nature of its starting lineup. In familiar fashion, Kentucky broke back into the mix on pure athleticism: James Young stadium-shaking dunk at the 10:40 mark ended UConn's run and brought the Wildcats storming back into the mix. UK would go on an 8-0 stretch beginning with Young's slam, turning a nine-point UConn advantage into a 48-47 game with 8:13 left. Time and time again, Young would carry Kentucky's offense – and lift its spirits – while Randle struggled to find any rhythm.

HARRISON TWINS: Run out of magic

5. Napier's three propels UConn to the title. This will be a tournament remembered for its parity, underdogs and white-knuckled nail-biters, beginning with the tournament's first full day – four overtime games, a single-day record – and extending through the Final Four. It was one defined by the steady and secure play of Napier, who carried UConn to the finals and then, with Kentucky charging fast, kept the Wildcats at bay and secured the Huskies' fourth national championship. It began with a three: Napier from deep, giving the Huskies at 51-47 lead. Then Giffey nailed a bomb to make it 54-49. Boatright leaned back to make a jumper to lift the lead to 56-50. The capper was his late-in-the-possession dish to teammate Lasan Kromah with 25.1 seconds left; Kromah was fouled on a layup attempt and made both free throws to provide the final margin of victory: UConn 60, Kentucky 54.

VIDEO: WHAT'S NEXT FOR 2014 FINAL FOUR TEAMS?

USA TODAY Sports' Nicole Auerbach examines what champion UConn, Florida, Kentucky, and Wisconsin will have to do next year to make deep NCAA tournament runs. USA TODAY Sports

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